Archive for December 2010

People Sunning Themselves on Blankets in Open Field

direct Vitamin D!

Headlines can be misleading — and recent news about how much Vitamin D we all need is a perfect case in point.

Here’s one headline from the Wall Street Journal: “Triple That Vitamin D Intake, Panel Prescribes.” And another from the New York Times: “Extra Calcium and Vitamin D Aren’t Necessary, Report Says.” While these are just a couple of headlines that may confuse readers, which would you trust?

First, one easy takeaway is that we should be reading our news carefully so that we don’t carry incorrect information from headlines alone. Less easy to sort through is who actually needs more Vitamin D. Now, conventional wisdom has been telling us that low levels of Vitamin D can be linked to depression, various kinds of cancer, diabetes and stroke. And, over the past nine years, supplement sales have risen from $40 billion to $425 billion. Yet — despite the difference in headlines — recent news reports are actually claiming that, across the board, North Americans are getting enough of the vitamin as is from their blood (through the natural process of absorbing direct Vitamin D from sunlight).

For some of us however, it’s crucial that we get more than others. In particular: 1) people over 50 should be increasing their daily intake to support bone strength; 2) people with dark skin contain more melanin, which reduces the skin’s ability to produce the vitamin from sunlight; and 3) people who are obese need extra Vitamin D to make up for the relatively low levels in their blood.

Find out if you’re someone who needs more Vitamin D from the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements.

Colorful Bottles of Kombucha

Kombucha flavors

Not the first, but certainly most recent: the New York Times’ T-magazine posted a new lifestyle article on the growing Kombucha trend.

What is Kombucha? Well, it is a strange fermented, effervescent tea concoction made through a process of 1) adding bacteria and sugar to black or green tea and 2) letting the mix ferment for several weeks.

Once before, in the mid 1990′s, Kombucha gathered a following heavy with do-it-yourself types who made the tea themselves. (Not the safest thing, since there is always a risk of potential contamination if not done under sterile conditions.)

This new craze, however, is unparalleled. Just last year, market researchers reported that sales of Kombucha and other “functional” juice drinks — intended to not just taste good but also provide drinkers with an impressive range of health benefits — totaled $295 million. Primarily due to the probiotic live culture that grows when the tea is fermented, benefits ascribed to Kombucha include: increased function of the immune system, better digestion and diet control, more energy, and healthier-looking skin.

Does it work? In full disclosure, I love Kombucha and would encourage curious individuals to test it out. For a good six months, I drank the tea every day…and didn’t get a cold or the flu once during that period. And while I didn’t suddenly feel any fantastic anti-aging effects of this elixir of life, I did think my skin looked more vibrant; and I absolutely felt that I could eat more and look thinner. Although I came to like the taste, like many Kombucha drinkers, I didn’t start out liking the drink for its taste. Through and through, I drank it for the effects I felt.

If you’re thinking about trying it, I would recommend trying it once to test how you feel. Due to the various unknowns, it’s good to be cautious: in short, there has yet to be any major human trial of Kombucha reported in any major medical journal. More, the newest story, reported this past June) highlighted that the FDA pulled Kombucha from stores due to its belief that the drink may contain higher levels of alcohol than reported.

If you find that you like it and are itching for more, try different flavors and brands: the most popular being GT’s Synergy drinks, which combine Kombucha with fruit flavors. My favorites were Raspberry Rush, Cosmic Cranberry, and the Original unflavored version. Word to the wise: be careful not to shake the bottle since it’s effervescent! I shook my first one to get the mixture going and it exploded all over my kitchen. Otherwise, enjoy!

Aromatherapy headache relief for children

Aromatherapy headache relief for children

Is Headache ReLeaf Roll-On safe for children?

Yes, and that’s great news for the one in five American children and teenagers who suffer from regular or chronic headache or from migraine headaches.

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